Dickieville, January and February 2007 

Let's see... in reverse order, it was 80 degrees, it was 9 degrees, I fired the world's largest production handgun. Details in correct chronological order follow.  You can leave comments here if you want!

In November, I finally bit the bullet (so to speak) and took the state mandated class to get a Class A firearms license; that is, the right to carry concealed weapons, purchase weapons with high capacity magazines, and become a general menace to society. It took two months to get the license. To the right, test firing a gun I was thinking of getting, the most powerful handgun in the world, the S&W 500. Below, Will firing an AR-15 at the same range. Below, right, my final decisions for purchase; a Walther P-22, Glock model 22, and S&W 460 XVR (there is some argument about whether the 500 or 460 is more powerful, but they are so close it is pretty academic). You can read about test firing the S&W in gory detail if you are interested! Or you can see the 10 second movie:


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After an incredibly warm December and early January, cold weather finally hit and we did some skiing at Wachusetts mountain. For his birthday, Will wanted to go to Stratton and ride (that is, snowboard), and a couple of sessions of snowboarding at Wachusetts convinced Dave he was ready to go for something bigger, so he brought his snowboard instead of skis. Of course, it had to be the most bitterly cold weekend of the year, with temperatures in the single digits in the early morning. By the time we were ready to go start, it had warmed up to a balmy 11 degrees, and it peaked at 14 in the afternoon.

The top of Stratton on Sunday

We stayed at a small inn about fifteen minutes from the mountain and played a lot of "Apples To Apples," one of the kids' favorite games. 

It looks cold because it is cold. 

Brie is stylin' on the slopes and playing mad bomber girl.  Dave and Will ride to glory off the top of the mountain.  For Dave, substitute "pain" for glory.  Kate, unfortunately, is quietly suffering from Will's cold in the lodge.

Things warm up … the Bahamas

After one of the coldest weekends this winter, it was time to heat things up a bit the next weekend by heading for our second stay at the Sheraton on Our Lucaya Beach on Grand Bahama Island (you can see our first stay by clicking here).  If you have a good memory, you might recall the insane time we had driving into Boston, with closed freeways, flat tires, and lost wallets.  This time, we decided to use a limo service to avoid all that, so that instead we could have an insane time with the actual flight.  


We were scheduled for a 6:15 AM departure, flying through Charlotte, to Grand Bahama Island.  Our flight was delayed a few days before, however, to 8:00, which made the connection in Charlotte a bit tight.  Kate scheduled a pickup for 5:00 in the morning on Saturday.  We were all up at 4:30 a.m., showering and doing last minute backing, when the phone ran.  A recorded voice said “This is USAir.  Your flight has been delayed until 9:10.  You will not make your connection in Charlotte.  We are actively working to correct the situation.”  Kate called USAir while I checked on the internet and found a second, later flight out of Charlotte that still had seats available.  After half an hour of being on hold, the limo arrived, and she had to hang up. 


 We didn’t have much of a choice, so we headed in, hoping that USAir automatically booked us on the later flight.  We arrived at Logan Airport at 5:45 to a scene of absolute chaos.  In thirty years of airline travel I have never had a more absurd experience at an airport.  It was so crowded, it was almost impossible to get in line… when we did get in line, and asked a US Air employee if it was the line for US Air, he said “he thought so but wasn’t sure.”  After two hours in that line, we made it to a self-help kiosk, which said it couldn’t book our flight because we were going to miss our connecting flight.  The constant background noise of people screaming at the US Air employees was giving me a headache. After an hour in another line, we made it to a ticketing counter where the employee told us that they had not booked us on the later flight to Freeport and that it was now full and we could go home or go spend the day in Charlotte.  After a certain amount of discussion, she said she could book us on a 1:00 flight to Nassau Island in the Bahamas, but couldn’t get us from Nassau to Grand Bahama Island.  I took the tickets anyway, figuring there must be a boat or puddle jumper we could grab. 


Kate managed to get tickets on a puddle jumper on her cell phone with some help by the Sheraton hotel, and we hopped on our plane with, literally, minutes to go.  Takeoff time came and went.  “Don’t worry,” I told the kids, “We have two hours when we get to Charlotte.  Plenty of time.”  The captain came on over the loudspeaker.  “Folks, we’ve been told to hold here indefinitely while more people get past security.  Sorry, it’s not what I’d choose to do, but until they pull the jetway back from the aircraft, we can’t move. 


We made it to Charlotte, with just enough time to make our flight to Nassau if we ran the entire way through the airport.  Which we did.  To the next delayed flight.  Which got us to Nassau with fifteen minutes to catch our puddle jumper to Grand Bahama Island… and we had to get through customs.  Which we did thanks to the traditional Bahamian “don’t worry” attitude and slipping one of the porters a twenty to smooth our way through.

You can see the photogallery (lots of pictures), or the short movie (21 Meg, MPEG-4 encoded, you will need Quicktime) if you want!  Otherwise, see our week day by day below.


Our savior, Western Air.  They checked baggage weight with one of those scales you buy for your bathroom.

On the puddle jumper… it’s an adventure!  The pilots assured us that they rarely lose an engine in flight, and never two.  At least, not yet.


We didn’t get to the Bahamas until rather late Saturday, as a result, but we had a nice meal and toured the small shopping village across from the Sheraton.  Sunday was day one… and one of the coldest days in Grand Bahama history, 60 degrees and windy.

Day One (Sunday)

Breakfast at the “Café Breeze,” our morning ritual for the rest of week

Chilly but still amazing scenery

And the wind does allow Brie to do the wind-swept hair thing.  To the right, during the evening, Kate, Dave and Will play “Settlers of Catan,” each deadly serious about winning.

Day Two (Monday)

Still a little chilly by Bahama standards, just over 70 degrees.  Time for tennis in the morning, but by the afternoon, it warmed up enough to do Beach Time and hang out at the pool.  We all agree that the Sheraton is amazingly vacant compared to our last visit… which was just after two hurricanes hit.  Seems kinda weird.

Girls will crush the guys if Dad is on the guy’s team.

Perfect form if the ball hadn’t already gone by

Will is ready to dive in, ‘cause he be crazy, mon

The Sheraton pool… amazingly empty compared to two years ago

Day Three (Tuesday)

Finally, the temperature is reaching the norm, with the day hitting the upper 70s.  Kate plays doubles in the morning.  Will, Dave and Brie do the Water Trampoline.  Kate and Brie go do girlee spa things (no need for the details but Brie enjoyed the pain) while Will and Dave go out on a Waverunner.  Will is driving, Dave is getting butt-slammed, thrown off, and losing his hat. 

Above, Will on the Waverunner.  To the right, the water trampoline.

Spectacular sunrise over the Sheraton beach

Day Four (Wednesday)

Temperatures are in the 80s.  Kate plays more doubles.  The kids hang out with friends.  Then it’s the snorkel boat off the Westin beach, with Dave, Kate, Brie and Will the only passengers, and which was actually amazingly cool.  Back for a shower, then some serious shopping, then tennis on the red clay courts for Kate and Will while Brie does dancing on the Sheraton lawn. 

The fish on the reef were spectacular.  And close.

Nothing serious about this mom-vs.-son game!

Day Five (Thursday)

Temperature hits 82, but the big activity of day is a snorkeling trip to Paradise Cove / Deadman’s Reef (which we did last trip) and the wind there is like hurricane gale analog conditions.  Driving through Freeport reminds us all of the grinding poverty that still afflicts most of the Bahamas.  After we arrive, we make the trip out past the inner reef, sans Will, who decided it wasn’t worth braving the wind-driven swells, and it’s pretty cool, but not as good as we remember.  Post snorkel rundown from the natives is that Hurricane Wilma, which hit after our last visit, trashed the place quite a bit.  We finished around noon, had lunch, then stayed for the early afternoon searching for sea shells by the sea shore… finding some pretty nice shells.  After we return, Dave and Will do the Waverunner experience again, because Will likes causing crushed vertebrae disks in his father.  Then, it’s time for Kate and Dave to have a quiet dinner together while the kids gorge themselves on Domino’s pizza.

Driving in we see...

the grinding poverty...

that is most of the Bahamas

Brie relaxes for a few minutes on one of the anchored floats.

Beachcombing.  Right top, dead-man's reef.  Right, bottom, the shells we found on the beach.

Day 6 (Friday)

Easily the best day of the vacation; out twice on the snorkeling boat (at Will’s insistence), lawn dancing, banana boating, water trampoline.

Beach shots....

And, last but not least... we end with the one thing that wasn't good about the vacation, missing Tasha and Patric, who waited patiently at the top of the stairs for the entire week until we came back (just kidding)